NEW YORK CITY-Recent published reports indicate that the slowing economy is likely to delay Forest City Ratner’s proposed $4-billion Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, but a Forest City Ratner spokesperson tells that today’s business environment “will not determine the final face of this project or deny the borough and the city its many benefits, including the thousands of units of affordable housing.”

The published reports quote Bruce Ratner, CEO of FCRC as saying that construction on a $950-million basketball arena for the Nets would start by the end of the year. The arena was to be surrounded by the office tower, known as Miss Brooklyn, and three residential buildings in the first phase of the project.

Daniel Goldstein, a spokesperson from Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, an organization protesting the project, says that “Atlantic Yards cannot be built as planned, and was never financially feasible. The economic downturn has served to make that crystal clear. Our elected officials cannot allow our public resources, as well as eminent domain, to be used to construct an arena. We call on the city and state to work with the community to develop the rail yards in a responsible manner, without destroying the existing neighborhoods in the process.”

Ratner says in a prepared statement that the company “remains committed to Atlantic Yards in its entirety and our investment in Brooklyn and the city is a long-term one.”

Goldstein believes that due to the increase in the cost of the arena, the project may have to go back for review and a vote by the Public Authorities Control Board. The PACB is comprised of Gov. David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, and requires a unanimous vote.

When the project was unveiled in 2003, it was projected to cost around $400 million. In mid-2005 it that cost rose to $435 million. It was approved at the end of 2006 at $637.2 million. And now, according to the developer in the published reports, the arena would be much costlier at $950 million.

“Besides facing a new review by the PACB, Forest City Ratner does not own the land it needs to build the arena,” according to DDDB attorney Jeffrey Baker. A FCRC spokesperson tells simply that the company “expects to open the arena in 2010.”

DDDB legal director Candace Carponter says that the expected fall groundbreaking for the arena is not possible based on the new review required by the PACB, the eminent domain lawsuit, the environmental lawsuit, and the economic environment. “It’s pure fantasy.”

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